Cronulla shines at Nines

CRONULLA has surprised on day one of the NRL Auckland Nines to emerge as the competition frontrunner.

Led by captain Wade Graham, the Sharks won both of their opening games and boasted the best for-and-against record in the pre-season event.

The boys in blue beat the Bulldogs 17-4 before thumping Brisbane 31-4 at Eden Park. Blake Ayshford, Jack Bird and Sami Sauiluma nabbed try-scoring doubles in the latter match.

The Tigers also won their opening two matches.

Hometown favourite New Zealand had more than 40,000 fans cheering when it defeated the Titans 17-10, but the host then suffered a surprise 23-19 loss to the Raiders.

The Dragons claimed arguably the most thrilling win when they scored in the dying seconds to beat Manly 25-21.

The Sea Eagles, Panthers, Titans, Bulldogs and the Broncos all lost their opening two encounters. The latter two cannot make it into the finals.

The Broncos came close to beating the Roosters in their opening game. With his side trailing 6-4, Anthony Milford crossed the line but it was deemed a no-try because of a forward pass from Kodi Nikorima.

The defending champion Cowboys beat the Storm 17-8 before losing 19-12 to the Rabbitohs.

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